Author Archives: George Simmers

After many years as a teacher, I retired and began researching for a Ph.D. on the fiction of the Great War – especially the books, stories and plays that were written during the War or immediately afterwards.

‘Sapper’ paper online

A couple of years ago I was fortunate to be invited to the conference of Les Amis du Roman Populaire in Amiens. The topic was popular fiction of the First World War, and I gave a paper on ‘Sapper’: from Realism to Melodrama. This tried to explain how ‘Sapper’ ( Herman Cyril McNeile), who began as […]

The Yorkshire Silent Film Festival

Mary McLaren in Shoes I’ve been away on holiday, so haven’t seen as much of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival as I’d have liked to. It’s playing throughout July at cinemas from Scarborough to Sheffield, and the films are worth catching. Yesterday I finally got to a session at the beautiful Hyde park cinema in […]

Portrait of an Airman by Philip Arnall

If I were in the business of reprinting neglected novels, the one I’d start with is Portrait of an Airman, by Philip Arnall (pseudonym of Oliver Stewart). Many thanks to Steve Paradis for pointing me towards this book. The novel traces a wartime career very like the author’s own, and it’s safe to assume that […]

Geoffrey Hill (1932 – 2016)

Geoffrey Hill has died, a remarkable poet and a profound critic. I heard him lecture  on war poetry at Oxford a few years ago, and wrote about it here.

The Somme on TV

I’m sure that the Somme vigils last night were very moving experiences, and it is absolutely right and proper to remember and honour the dead. I was very disappointed, though, with what I saw of the television coverage last night. What follows may not be a complete account of the programme, since I am allergic […]

‘What should we read on the 100th anniversary of The Battle of the Somme?’

An article has appeared in the Guardian with the above title. It is not actually about what we should read, but about what they should read, since, after a nod to the better-known war poets, it is mostly about books to give children at the time of the centenary of the Somme. Most highly recommended […]

Nurses and memoirs

Stuart Cloete in 1918 I’d been thinking a bit about nurses’ memoirs when I came across these paragraphs in Stuart Cloete’s 1972 autobiography,  A Victorian Son. When he was fighting on the Somme in 1916, a bullet went through his chest and out the other side. He was sent to a base hospital: But I […]

Air war fiction

I’ve been tweeted with a question about ‘#WWI aviation novels published 1918-1940?’ I can’t suggest very much, but here are some random thoughts: During the war, flyers were presented as heroes, but most home-based writers had little idea of the technicalities of flying. Actual airmen wrote quite a bit of poetry, but little prose that […]

‘The Statue’ by Eden Philpotts and Arnold Bennett

The Statue (1908) by Eden Philpotts and Arnold Bennett links in a way to the ‘Future War’ fiction of the pre-1914 era, since the plot is overshadowed by the possibility of crisis and conflict between France and Germany. Both countries are vying to provide a huge loan to the Sultan of Morocco, with a rivalry […]

Celebrating Mrs Dalloway

Elaine Showalter in the Guardian makes an excellent case for celebrating today as Mrs Dalloway Day (or ‘Dallowday’). Joyceans have their Bloomsday on June 16th, so why not make a thing of Mrs D. on June 13th (the likeliest date for the party, though Woolf is a bit vague about dates – and a few […]

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